In the eight-hour long violent hand-to-hand fight that raged across the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, China's People’s Liberation Army (PLA) assault teams armed with iron rods and batons wrapped in barbed wire “hunted down and slaughtered” personnel of the 16 Bihar Regiment, reported News18 citing a senior government official familiar with the debriefing of survivors at hospitals in Leh.
In the fierce clash, unarmed men who fled into the hillsides were hunted down and killed, an officer told the publication. Even the men who jumped into the Galwan river in a desperate effort to escape were killed, the officer said.
Twenty Indian Army personnel, including Colonel Santosh Babu, were reportedly killed in a fierce clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15 night.
At least another two dozen soldiers are battling life-threatening injuries and over 110 have needed treatment, said the report. “The toll will likely go up,” a military officer with knowledge of the issue was quoted as saying.
According to the report, the fighting started after troops under Colonel Babu’s command dismantled a Chinese tent set up near a position code-named Patrol Point 14, close to the mouth of the Galwan river. It was done following a meeting between Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, who commands the Leh-based XIV Corps, and Major-General Lin Liu, the head of the Xinjiang military district. However, the PLA refused to vacate Point 14 leading to a melee in which the Chinese tent was burned down, said the report quoting its sources.
The burning of the tent was followed by stone-pelting on June 14, and then a massive June 15 night attack on the 16 Bihar’s unprepared troops, sources told the publication. In the fight, Chinese troops threw large rocks towards the Indian positions, they added.
It is said to be the biggest confrontation between the two militaries after their 1967 clashes in Nathu La when India lost around 80 soldiers while over 300 Chinese army personnel were killed in the confrontation. The casualties take both sides into uncharted territory at a time when the government's attention is focused on fighting the COVID-19 crisis that appears to be ballooning by the day.
A large number of Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in Galwan Valley and certain other areas of eastern Ladakh for the last five weeks, including in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials were silent on the casualties suffered by the PLA troops, but Hu Xijin, the editor of the ruling Communist Party-run Global Times tabloid, tweeted to say that there are casualties on Chinese side too.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the Chinese Army suffered 35 casualties in the clash with the Indian Army.
(With inputs from PTI)Read our complete coverage on the India-China border tension.